A special security event convoked by the leadership and members of the National Association of Online Security Reporters (NAOSRE) on December 11 in Lagos, 2020, brought new light on the insecurity bedeviling Nigeria.
The brainstorming event––NAOSRE’s maiden Dinner Night and Discourse–– was organised by the body’s new executives that took over the helm of affairs barley two months ago, specifically on October 29.
NAOSRE’s members comprised professional journalists with strong media credentials who have worked with the conventional media and are now reporting on digital platforms, some of them, Nigeria’s finest hands in security reportage.
Established with the main objective to provide accuracy, transparency in relaying security news, the association also stands as the long expected information bridge between citizens and security agents.
To this end, it has successfully established a sustainable working relationship with key security players in the corporate world and security agencies in Nigeria, including but not limited to the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police Force and Nigeria Customs Service as well as Federal Road Safety Corps.
Without doubt, NAOSRE’s clout in Nigeria’s security stratosphere was displayed by the event of December 11, which, as it were, has passed into history as a watershed in the annals of security discourse in the country.
The Dinner Night and Discourse drew participants, guests and speakers from the safety and security agencies, the legislative arm of government, traditional leadership and corporate organizations and of course, the media––both traditional and the digital media.
Interestingly, the evening of intelligent discourse with a theme: “2021 Nigeria Security: Issues, Funding and Prospect,” unlocked a plethora of security solutions and ideas.
Expectedly, the convergence of key players in the security circle opened the windows set of suggestions which would embellish 2021 security policy formulation and implementations in a manner that Nigeria would be one of the secured countries on the continent.
Femi Oyewale, NAOSRE’s President, in his welcome address, set the tone for the event:
“Today's security discourse was birthed out of the need to address the security issues in Nigeria, bearing in mind that 2020 has been a very tough year for citizens, businesses and indeed, the security sector.”
Oyewale’s remark was, unmistakably, the needed bullet that hit the bull’s eye, considering the various security challenges that reared up in the course of the year, culminating in the catharsis of the #ENDSARS protest.
It provided room for elaborate sharing of ideas and offered a 360-degree view of Nigeria’s security apparatus. Each security apparatus spoke on the unique challenges confronting their efficiency on the job, as well as also informed the public about the gains and the good strides that have been achieved by their respective organisations.
From the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, came a detailed analysis of the use of hi-tech speed sensors to check recklessness of drivers on Nigerian roads, and thus secure road transportation in the country.
Superintendent Route Commander, SRC, E. Olasehinde who represented Bisi Kazeem, the spokesman for the Commission, elaborated the professional working abilities of Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr Boboye Oyeyemi. He disclosed that the Corps has “Embraced technology in all its operations.”
He hinted that a drivers’ license issued by FRSC in Nigeria can validate a user's driving permission across many countries in the world. He however sued for strict adherence to driving rules and codes by road users to mitigate the growing list of disasters on Nigerian roads.
The National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah, gave a wide-angle view of the new developments. “We are not relenting. We continue to do our best to drastically reduce smuggling to the barest minimum,” he assured.
Represented by Uche Ejesieme, PRO Tin Can Island Port, the Customs Service elaborated its deployment of intelligence in the discharge of its duties at all the country’s points of entry.
The Customs particularly advocated for synergy among security agents in view of the multifaceted dimensions of border security.
Superintendent Adebisi Adewunmi, who represented Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Hakeem Odumosu, highlighted: “There is need to spend money and there is need to inject more funds in the security apparatus from military to the Police.”
Speaking further, he said: “In Lagos, Policemen work 24/7. They are overstretched. But with proper funding, everyone will sleep with their eyes closed.”
Adewunmi, however, noted that the work of the police is further made difficult by online mischief-makers who created unnecessary panic. “Please join hands with the police, tell us our wrongs, but don’t encourage sensational journalism that can further breach the peace in society,” he appealed to NAOSRE.
Adewunmi acknowledged the positive development arising from the fallout of the #ENDSARS protest: “We have been promised an improved salary and retirement package.”
Major Osoba Olaniyi, who represented Brigadier General Sagir Musa, Acting Director, Army Public Relations, disclosed that “Nigerian Army is conducting internal security operations in 34 states.”
Major Olaniyi, Acting Deputy Director, 81 Division Army Public Relations, explained: “We accept criticism because we are a professional institution. However, what we don’t want is casting aspersion on us, because it has the tendency to weaken the resolve of those still fighting and dishonour the memories of our fallen heroes; it also has the tendency to undermine national unity.”
Olaniyi, responding to concerns raised about members of Police and Army impunity when dealing with civilians affirmed: “Irrespective of whatever uniform we wear, we still share the same humanity with members of society. And we shall try to remain humane with you.”
Both the Police and Army agreed that there are bad eggs among their operatives.
“The military is still high on discipline. We still don’t condone indiscipline,” Major Olaniyi who speaks for Army formations in both Ogun and Lagos States, asserted.
He nonetheless advised the public to report cases of infractions to 81 Division and 9th Brigade, stressing that Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, has zero tolerance for indiscipline among officers and men especially in relating with the general public.
Corroborating Major Osoba’s submission, Superintendent Adewunmi added that: “There will always be Judas among people. The same applies to the Nigeria Police. But be assured that we are doing all we can to train our men on how to relate with the public.”
He gave the anecdote of how some communities rose to protect Police officers and prevented attacks on police stations located in their neighbourhood. “Citizens should imbibe the spirit of supporting security agents at all times,” he requested.
Various speakers from the non-security sector further expanded the evening discourse.
Dr Tony Akposheri, veteran Nollywood actor, who represented Prince Honourable Ned Nwoko, Grand Patron, NAOSRE, pointed out that the public has roles to play in the security of our society.
“We cannot leave everything to the government,” he noted and further submitted: “Nigerian security discourse is timely at this time of our nation, not the issue of sacking service chiefs; if they are sacked and the right things are not in place the situation will not improve.”
Dr Akposheri noted further that: “Our security personnel are not adequately well taken care of and the number of security operatives in this country is not adequate,” he said, pointing out other deficits including working with obsolete tools and technology.
In his view, “Children of security agents should enjoy free education from primary school to university.” This, he averred, would boost the morale of security operatives.
“We are not happy with the state of the Nigerian Police. They are not well remunerated. There should be transparency in what goes to them as earnings and allowances,” Akposheri declared.
Barrister Yinka Oguntimehin who represented Aare Ona-Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Otunba Gani Adams, dwelt on how the police institution has decayed over time. He recounted the heart-breaking revelations on a recent radio programme about the poor salary of policemen.
Aside, he added the dehumanizing condition of service Police officers are subjected, starting with the barracks where they live which have degenerated into squalor, and the burden of providing the basic tools of their jobs including their uniform, beret and boots and even the charge sheets in their stations.
While commiserating with the police force for the loss of its members during the ENDSARS saga, Oguntimehin observed: “As a matter of fact, a better police service was what the youths had demanded.”
Although, the Guest Speaker of the event, Senate Committee Chairman on Air Force, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, was unavoidably absent ––having had to fly back home earlier on that day as he was bereaved––he nonetheless made a vital contribution that became one of the main takeaways from the event.
With the participants listening to him on phone, Senator Na’Allah avowed that “A lot of issues need to be addressed if we must reverse the insecurity facing Nigeria.”
He was blunt in holding the country’s elite responsible for the degeneration of security. “There must be an institutional commitment on the part of the government to curb some of the security challenges,” he said.
Continuing, he further asserted: “It has dawned on everyone and the government that there is an urgent need to address security issues affecting the country.”
Other highlights of the night include messages of support from the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, whose message was delivered by a Principal Officer of the House, Honourable Noheem Adams representing Constituency: Eti-Osa I.
In his message, Speaker Obasa who is also the Chairman Nigerian body of Speakers, assured Lagosians and indeed Nigerians of qualitative legislative contributions to a safer society. “As legislators, we are committed to our oversight functions to ensure that appropriated funds for military operations are judiciously utilized for its rightful purpose,” Obasa vowed.
There was also a show of support by FirstBank of Nigeria Plc team. Nigeria's leading bank’ staff were physically present at the event, a development that sent assuring signals to the banking public of FirstBank’s commitment to security in a manner that depositors with the bank do not have any need to entertain fears in the years ahead.
From the traditional enclave was HRM. Oba (Dr.) Adeoriyomi Akeem Oyebo, Obateru of Egbin Kingdom, Ikorodu, Lagos , to lend his voice to NAOSRE’s dinner of security solutions.
The Lagos first class traditional ruler advised government across levels to consider the use of traditional methods to checkmate criminal activities.
“Some criminal elements, who, at times, over power security agents use traditional powers. Why can't the government look in that direction? He asked.
The highly respected Oba, who was accompanied to the event by Chief Lateef S. Saminu, Olisa Egbin, supported his suggestion with a story of a man who once secured and safe guarded a bank in Ibadan without being physically present.
He however prayed for NAOSRE and encouraged its leaders to sustain its noble task of promoting effective security communication.
Another traditional ruler at the event was HRM Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal
Abisogun, Oniru of Iruland .
The Kabiesi was ably represented by his media aide, Femi Liadi.
Nollywood star, Paul Obazele reflected on the trauma of the recent protest and called for more citizens’ co-operation with security agents.